'And yet on the other hand unless warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image, but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye.' -- Milton, Areopagitica


26th of September, 2004


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A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. Roald Dahl's The Witches. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende. Grimm's Fairy Tales. Harry Potter. The Handmaid's Tale. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Julie of the Wolves. Where's Waldo? Little Red Riding Hood.

Maria Nutick here. All of these diverse books have something in common, something serious and sickening and wrong. Some time in the past ten years, somewhere in the United States (oh yes, and in other countries, too) a person or an organization has tried to have these books and hundreds of others banned. Pulled from public libraries and forbidden in classrooms. Quashed. Book challengers cite explicit language, graphic sex, and extreme violence as reasons. Religious zealots hold book burnings to destroy fantasy books, equating them with the vilest of pornography as harmful to society. Reading Huckleberry Finn? Why, you might as well be looking at pictures of double amputees having carnal relations with Angora goats in Jello filled hot tubs!

Yes, there really are people that twisted and stupid. So, we at Green Man want to remind you that September 25th to October 2nd is Banned Book Week 2004. We want to remind you to think for yourselves. Remember, we'll tell you if a book is badly written, or badly edited, or has a sadly lame, hackneyed plot and two-dimensional characters. But we'll never tell you not to read a book because we think it's dangerous to your mind or your soul. Exactly the opposite, in fact. We'll track down the most offbeat, bizarre, and thought provoking fantasy and speculative fiction and bring it to your attention, and shout 'You have to read this!' from the rooftops. Because above all else, the reviewers and editors of Green Man value -- no, prize -- Ideas and Knowledge. Don't ever let anyone take those treasures away from you, dear readers.

After you read our new reviews, go on and check out the American Library Association's Banned Book Week information. Go see how many challenged or banned books you have on your shelves. We hope there are a lot of them.

Perk up your ears, de Lint fans...here comes another one! Cat Eldridge writes up our featured book this week: 'Early fall here at Green Man is when we get buried with review material, and that pile has just some of the more interesting items that have arrived in the past few weeks. Yes, there are Jim Henson's The Storyteller DVDs, and that is an extra copy of de Lint's The Blue Girl so feel free to take it to read. The puppets? They're from the good folks at Folkmanis -- my favorite is the eighteen inch tall mouse in the vest...But the best arrival was the thick plain blue volume that is Quicksilver & Shadow -- Collected Early Stories, Vol. 2, the latest Subterranean Press collection from Charles de Lint.

Another year, another collection of tales from this writer of fantasy. Boring? Hardly. As always de Lint impresses me with his ability to weave a tale that holds my interest from the beginning to the end. Indeed Quicksilver & Shadow is a much more exciting collection than A Handful of Coppers: Collected Early Stories, Volume 1: Heroic Fantasy was for me.'

'I have seen piles of this book, with its distinctive blue and yellow dust jacket, in all the new bookstores around town for the last few weeks. Someone must think this is going to be a 'hot' item. I offered to read and review it for Green Man some time before I realized this -- I usually shy away from anything that seems destined for best-seller status in my lifetime. It looked like a serious, well-researched historical novel set in the declining years of the Ottoman Empire.' Donna Bird is referring to another novel by Corelli's Mandolin author Louis de Bernières. Read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review of Birds without Wings to see if she still thinks it's going to be a best-seller!

Who do you think of when I say 'gay cannibal necrophiliac'? I hope that it brings to mind Poppy Z. Brite and not a family reunion or a day at the office! I'll bet Ms. Brite's books have been challenged a few times, now that I think of it. Fortunately for us, Letters Editor Craig Clarke doesn't shy away from Brite's books, and so we have a review of her second short story collection, Are You Loathsome Tonight?. Craig says 'If the author's name or the punny title don't let you know that there is uncommon stuff to be found in Are You Loathsome Tonight? -- the second collection (after Wormwood, a.k.a. Swamp Foetus) of former wunderkind Poppy Z. Brite's short fiction -- the front and back cover illustrations by J.K. Potter will drive that point home. Fans looking for more pre-Liquor Poppy will be quite satisfied.'

Faith Cormier has two offerings for us this issue. The first is a rather heavy tome, '...a compilation of writings by 105 women in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The works featured include prose, poetry, non-fiction, fiction, autobiography and oral history. All that the authors cited have in common is that they are female and have been in some way influenced by Appalachia...' Of this collection edited by Sandra L. Ballard and Patricia L. Hudson, Faith says 'Anthologies tend to be spotty in quality. This one is not.' See her review of Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia to find out why she thinks it's just that good.

Faith also reviews a folksie cookery book from a series and author we hope to see more selections from here at Green Man. The Lost Art of Pie Making Made Easy inspired Faith to say 'I enjoyed this book so much, I immediately took steps to obtain not only Barbara Swell's other books, but several of those she quotes from.'

Chief Cat Eldridge, or as we sometimes think of him around here, Donna Bird's other half, has a lesser known but terribly important collection from Robert Holdstock: 'Robert Holdstock's best known for his sprawling Ryhope Wood series, which encompasses, most readers think, of four complex novels: Mythago Wood, Lavondyss, The Hollowing, and Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn. Of course they are some of the finest writing in the English langage...But what if hardly anyone has read the actual beginning of this series? What if that tale has been effectively lost?' Cat explains that The Bone Forest is that beginning, at least as much as anything can be in a set of tales where 'time loops onto itself in a way that makes saying what happened and when bloody near impossible.'

'The Callahan's crew is back once more for another wild adventure from acclaimed author Spider Robinson. It's been ten years since Jake Stonebender, his wife Zoey, their daughter Erin, time-traveling genius Nikola Tesla, inveterate punster Doc Webster, organ-playing Fast Eddy Costigan, the talking dog Ralph Von Wau Wau, and all of the other freaks and lunatics of Callahan's Bar moved to Key West and opened up a bar known simply as The Place. Oh yes, and ten years since they saved the universe from certain annihilation. Given a track record like theirs, which includes multiple world saves, can anyone blame the gang for settling into a nice rum-soaked retirement? Pity it can't stay that way.' And how fitting that this review is by a reviewer who is back once more here at Green Man! Callahan's Con is reviewed by Michael Jones...welcome back, Michael!

Master Reviewer David Kidney...and the Beatles. It's one heck of a combination, and here it is again, in another Excellence in Writing Award winning combination: 'There is a HUGE market in Beatles' books. Biographies, discographies, day-by-day accounts, song by song records, memories, theories, you name it. John Lennon wrote his funny little poems and tales, Paul McCartney has published poems and artwork, George Harrison issued a volume of reminiscences and lyrics, and together they released The Anthology...but Ringo hasn't said much. Postcards From the Boys is Ringo's offering. It's a collection of postcards received by Ringo (and his family) from...The Boys. John, Paul and George kept in touch by sending postcards from wherever in the world they happened to be.'

Copy Editor Rebecca Scott is a geek. Really, she even says so in our next review: 'I'm a geek. I've always been a geek, from the time I was a kid. Sometime in my teens, I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). It was about space, it had cool tech toys, it had people accepting things about people who were different, and it had a not-entirely-uncute teenaged guy who was too smart for his own good. Oh, yes. I had a crush on Wesley Crusher.' And so Rebecca brings us a review of a book by the geek who used to be Wesley Crusher -- oh, and she takes home a nice nerdy Excellence in Writing Award for it, too: 'Just a Geek, subtitled 'Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise', is not, as some people have claimed, 260 pages of Wil Wheaton whining about how he used to be an actor when he was a kid. Instead, it's 260 pages of Wil talking about how he learned to stop whining about how people thought of him as a guy who used to be an actor when he was a kid.'

Another Master Reviewer, another music group...Gary Whitehouse is another one of our reviewers with a hell of a knowledge base when it comes to rock music. In this review of 4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader, Gary states: 'A case can be made that CSNY is the quintessential American rock group, and 4 Way Street attempts to make that case. Dave Zimmer, himself a music journalist and longtime fan of the group, has put together a book consisting of articles and interviews that appeared in the music press over the 30-some years of the group's parlous existence. Some of the articles have long been out of print, and their republication shines some light in a few dark old corners of the Sixties that many who were there may have forgotten.'

Editor Matthew Winslow hits the proverbial nail on the head with a sledgehammer when he explains that 'In the 1980s, television journalist Bill Moyers popularized the idea of myth when his series on Joseph Campbell aired on PBS. Almost overnight, it seemed, it was acceptable for grown-ups to talk about myth, and the power of myth on the human psyche. Fairy tales were no longer just for the nursery room (which idea itself was relatively new, by the way). It was a great time to be discussing the power of myth. Things have perhaps backtracked slightly, but with the recent Lord of the Rings movies, it is once again becoming fashionable to speak about myth. In certain circles (including GMR), however, it never became unfashionable. For many, myth is not a fad, but a reality of life.' No, myth never became unfashionable here; indeed, it's what we're all about. Is it a fear of the power of myth which leads to the banning and burning of books? Perhaps. Matthew earns an Excellence in Writing Award for this timely review as he notes 'OK, it may come as a bit of a surprise to some readers that there are Christians who can speak of myth. After all, in America the predominant, or at least the most vocal, form of Christianity is evangelicalism, which has a recorded track record of not being comfortable with mythic ideas. A book like Rolland Hein's Christian Mythmakers is desperately needed, both for Christians who think myth is dangerous and for non-Christians who want an understanding of how myth and Christianity relate.'

Right, SPike's turn now. Jus' lemme turn down the volume on the DVD I'm watchin'...had it cranked up to ELEVEN! @#$%in' Spinal Tap kills me ev'ry time! Ummm...right...the music reviews this week. Well I haveta say...the music reviewed this week made me stop an' go 'Hmmmm?' These writers what inhabit this buildin' have some of the most @#$%in' esoteric (is that the word?) taste I can imagine!

Master Reviewer and fine barbecue chef that he is...David Kidney leads off wif a trio of reviews. First he looks at Eric Bibb, Friends, a collection of duets by the New York muso. Did Dave like it...well listen to this, 'When I was a young man, before I reached my advanced years, nobody was singing the blues except for Englishmen. The old blues singers were in their dotage, and the younger black musicians avoided the blues like the plague. Then Taj Mahal came along and embraced the blues tradition, along with all the other traditions his roots led him to. In recent years a growing number of people have followed Taj on this path. Eric Bibb, whose father Leon was a highly regarded folk-singer, blends blues, gospel, folk and country in a tasty gumbo in a healthy portion on this most recent CD.' Read the rest for 'is evaluation.

The second album David looks at...wuz a weird one. I heard him playin' this stuff...an' came runnin' to 'is assistance. I thought 'e'd lost 'is marbles! Lefty Frizzell's That's the Way Life Goes: the Hit Songs 1950-1975. While it wuz definitely not MY cup of Guinness...Mr. Kidney listened to it all week and 'ad this to say, 'Lefty Frizzell passed on, victim of of a stroke at the age of 47 in July of 1975...but his legacy lives on. You can hear him in the music of Yoakam and Haggard, in the phrasing of Randy Travis and many others. Thanks to Raven, you don't have to listen to the new guys...you can hear all the hits, in order, in remastered beauty. Packaged with an informative and well-illustrated booklet That's The Way Life Goes is a remarkable tribute to a remarkable talent.' An' by the way, Dave 'ad this cranked up to 11 as well!

Like I always say...there's no accountin' f'r taste. David's third review takes 'im back to the Hawaiian Islands. He had such a great time there a couple of summers ago that he just loves this kinda stuff. UKU-@#$%in'-LELE music!!! From talented amateurs to seasoned pros...The Langley Ukulele Ensemble to John King. Dave loves 'em all. His review of John King's Royal Hawaiian Music combines with two CDs by the kids at Langley to earn David an Excellence in Writing Award. He starts his review by saying, 'Aah, Hawaiian music. It's one of my guilty pleasures. In fact, I don't feel that guilty about it at all. At Green Man Review we've looked at quite a bit of Hawaiian music in the past. Steel guitar, slack key guitar, and the dancing flea, or 'ukulele all ring out with the very special sounds that speak of warm breezes, swaying palms and crashing surf. If you've never been to Hawaii...you owe it to yourself to go. If you have been...you're dying to go back. And Hawaiian music is one way to simulate the feel, and tone of the islands; it is relaxed, mellow, and soothing -- and very melodic. These three CDs span a vast spectrum of music, and display the ukulele in the hands of a talented group of beginners and also in the hands of possibly the greatest living practitioner.' Then he says a lot more. Read for y'rself.

Peter Massey, Senior Writer an' All Round Decent Bloke, listened to a couple of Ben Walker albums -- Polar Bear an' Another World -- this week an' 'ad this to say, 'these are two very nice albums that ably demonstrate the superb musical ability and different facets of Ben Walker...You really need to get both albums to truly appreciate the songwriter’s art - and at the price he is selling them for - you won’t be disappointed.' An' as might be expected Peter 'ad a lot more to say, all of which wuz very int'restin' but needs to be read to be appreciated. Do so, at your earliest @#$%in' convenience!

Finally for this week...Master Writer and Keeper of the Keys to the Locks Gary Whitehouse jumps in wif his Excellence in Writing Award winning article about a group called Lado and their CD Christmas Songs and Carols of Dalmatia (is that really where those dogs come from?). CHRISTMAS SONGS IN SEPTEMBER? You might well arsk! Well Gary advises, '...don't get too hung up on the details. Put down the booklet, turn up the music, and let its magic fill the corners and spaces of your room. This music is an uplifting experience for music lovers of all countries and creeds. If you enjoy sacred music, or if you like Balkan singing, Christmas Songs and Carols of Dalmatia is worth seeking out.'

There you 'ave it. Only a handful of music reviews this week but again, reviews of stirring depth and remarkable insight. @#$% me Cat...I can't keep this up much longer. The Thesaurus keeps slammin' shut! Anyway...some @#$%in' good music and good writin' this week to boot. See ya'll next time!


Oh, and one of the Green Man Pub regulars asks why Where's Waldo was challenged. Well, apparently some loon thought they saw a topless sunbather hidden among the cartoons. And Little Red Riding Hood? Why, because it condones the use of alcohol, of course! And did I mention that Tarzan of the Apes was challenged because Tarzan was living in sin with Jane? You just can't make this stuff up...

19th of September, 2004

'Most days are like all of the others
Go to work, come back home, watch TV,
But, brother, if I had me druthers,
I'd chuck it and head out to sea,
For I dream of the skull and the crossbones,
I dream of the great day to come,
When I dump the mundane for the Old Spanish Main
And trade my computer for rum! ARRR!

T' me,
Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho,
It's 'Talk Like A Pirate' Day!
When laptops are benches God gave us for wenches,
And a sail ain't a low price to pay!
When timbers are shivered and lillies are livered
And every last buckle is swashed,
We'll abandon our cars for a shipful of ARRRs
And pound back the grog til we're sloshed!'

--Tom Smith, 'Talk Like A Pirate' Day


Mistress D'Grogcups here, First Mate of the Green Man Review. Come aboard, me hearties, for it's Talk Like a Pirate Day, and we're celebratin' it proper here for the first time! Now we're more than slightly acquainted with pirates, here . . . rumor has it that Drake's sometimes been sighted in the Pub, and our barmaid Anne claims she sailed with Calico Jack Rackham. Every now and then a dangerous lookin' man in seaman's boots sidles up to the bar in the pub and asks for our best rum. Reynard always taps the special keg in the back. Aye, the stories we've heard . . . 

Today the kitchen is serving salmagundi, barbecued kid, salt beef, kraut, hardtack porridge, turtle eggs, pickled onions, bumboo, rumfustian, grog, and ale. The Dread Pirate Rebecca has us all outfitted in proper pirate gear -- ye ought to see Ol' Scar Chest Whitehouse in his thigh high boots! Grapeshot Hoke's waving his cutlass about and Cap'n Dogbane has been practicing his hearty 'ARRRR' all week. The Endless Session's playing nothing but hornpipes and sea chanties, and we've got some new pirate themed reviews for you, as well as a reminder to check our archives for past reviews relevant to the occasion. So, go on and find out your very own pirate name, pour yourself a cup of grog, and let's set sail!

What else would we feature on Talk Like a Pirate Day than the new book from the two guys who started it all! As I say in me review, '. . . Talk Like a Pirate Day was born, and became an international phenomenon. Now the two guys responsible, John 'Ol' Chumbucket' Baur and Mark 'Cap'n Slappy' Summers, have published a guide for all of those who wish to participate. Well Blow Me Down!, subtitled The Guy's Guide to Talking Like a Pirate, is a silly bit of fun well suited for anyone who has ever felt the draw of the high seas -- even if you've never been closer to the ocean than you are when purchasing a can of Star-Kist tuna.'

Our featured CD is perfect for the day, too! I plundered a particularly excellent bit of loot a couple of weeks ago. It's sea chanties, of course . . . from the Crimson Pirates, no less: 'Putrid and Disgusting is their third CD, and if it's an indication of how good they are then I hope to see them in person one of these days. This is fun.'

This weekend wouldn't be complete if we didn't have a review of the newest theater release, would it? Dread Pirate Rebecca explains, 'the concept caught me immediately: a movie in which everything but the actors themselves was created by computer. The more I found out, the more intrigued I became. Most of my friends were fascinated, too. We all agreed that, visually, this would be a terrific movie if things had been done even half-right. It was too much to hope for that the story would be good on top of it, especially since no one knew anything about it. That's never a good sign. So I walked into a theater on opening night with high hopes that my eyes were in for a treat. Soft-focus forties styles, dark and impressive. Towering metal robots and wing-flapping planes. Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie. I was determined to ignore the story if necessary. Amazingly, the story was good.' Having just come from the theater myself, I'll raise a tankard in agreement with her ardent review of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Toss that wench an Excellence in Writing Award, to boot!

Smilin' Mae leads off the book reviews this week, with the first in a new series: 'Laura Anne Gilman creates a world where magic is real, but still kept under wraps. She paints a vivid picture of a hidden, magical New York, and keeps fantasy in the forefront. Demons, angels and other fairy creatures, or Fatae, live there, but are mortal and face the dangers every other living creature has to contend with, including bigotry and hatred.' Yo ho, go read more about Staying Dead!

'In Midnighters, the strike of midnight is a whole hour long, experienced as such only by those who have been born at midnight, and for only those (as far as we know) who live in Bixby, Oklahoma. It's a time where everything is eerily blue, most of the world stands still, and creepy things called slithers and scary things called darklings come out to play.' Scurvy Bess Dawkins liked Midnighters -- The Secret Hour: 'Scott Westerfeld has created an intriguing new landscape, and an appealing group of characters.'

The fearsome One-Eye McGee has a brace of reviews for us, me darlin's; reviews of books about . . . bats? Aye, bats! One-Eye says 'Kenneth Oppel has built an intriguing fantasy world, with a mythology and history of its own, from the lives of the creatures of forest and jungle. Interestingly enough, many of the good guys are creatures that people don't especially treasure -- bats, rats and owls. But then, some of the bad guys are bats and owls, too, and the good guys aren't always that appealing. Missing are the standard characters of 'animal' fantasy -- no bears, foxes, wolves, or badgers appear as characters. In spite of repeated demonstrations of affection among the bats, there is little here that could be called 'cuddly.'' We don't have any doubloons laying about, so hand that seadog a pair of Excellence in Writing Awards for his reviews of Silverwing, Sunwing, and Firewing!

Pirate Angelina the Black and I share a hearty love of Tove Jansson's Moomins. Angelina finally tracked down a translation of Jansson's first Moomin novel, a translation that currently exists online only: 'David McDuff translated [The Little Trolls and the Great] Flood in 1996, prompted by a recent republishing of the book in Finland. 'I and my Finnish colleagues,' he says, 'were anxious to see it in English translation.' The whole translation process took about a year. (For people even more obsessed than I am with collecting all things Moomin, the first except of McDuff's translation was published by Books From Finland magazine. Happy hunting!)'

'In this day and age', says the Queen of Ale, 'reading about how the wicked old witch was defeated by the handsome prince and the resourceful princess just doesn't cut it anymore. With all of the bloody headlines splattered across the front pages of newspapers, it is sometimes very hard to convince oneself that magic and happy endings do exist. The best of these stories, regardless of whether they take place in the robotic future or the frantic pace of now, manage to keep a handful of the magic and wonder that the original tales held, and mingle them flawlessly into the fabric of our own times.' She's talking about Little Red Riding Hood in the Big Bad City, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers.

Letters Editor Cutthroat Leech enjoyed David Mamet's film Spartan . Cutthroat describes Spartan as 'a crackerjack thriller that, while not up to the level of some of his previous efforts, is still a compelling action film with more brains than average and, of course, Mamet's trademark energy and idealized 'natural' speech.'

Who doesn't love a good swashbuckling film? Jimmy the Cabin Boy certainly does. Jimmy watched a classic of the genre, The Sea Hawk. He observes, '. . . no actor's name is more synonymous with such swashbuckling fare than Errol Flynn's, and The Sea Hawk is one of his very finest efforts.' We can't argue with that.

Step away from the Endless Session for a moment. What's the lovely music playing in here, you ask? It's a raga in honour of Ganesh. Today's the Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. It celebrates the birth of Ganesh, also called Ganapati, the elephant-headed god who is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Although technically a subsidiary figure in the Hindu pantheon, Ganesh's importance advanced markedly during the 20th century, and he is celebrated and revered as a god of prosperity, prudence, and success. And, for us here at Green Man, he's important in his guise as the patron god of scribes! Cobra Indian Beers for all!

I must confess that I find Andean music about as fittin' to listen to as being keelhauled -- repeatedly. But me tastes are not those of Grinnin' Bones Kelly who really liked Andean Fusion's new CD: 'It doesn't even take a full listen to realize that Andean Fusion is having a great deal of fun on Andean Sounds for the World vol. VII. The South American-themed band is famous for its daily performances at the trendy Rivercenter along San Antonio, Texas River Walk, offering a distinct change of pace and sound in a city overrun with tourist-centric mariachi bands. The original and traditional selections from the Andean mountain countries of South America -- Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina -- are often haunting, invariably beautiful and filled with echoes of distant lands and culture. But on this disc, the band gives in to the realities of a tourism-driven economy and collects many of their most-requested popular music interpretations. Rather than a dilution of their skill and a case of selling out, the songs showcase the creativity and flexibility of Andean Fusion, with clever arrangements and performances that never betray the bands roots.'

Casey Neill Band's Live on 11th Street found favour with our much jaded Editor-in-Chief who has thought of having more than a few musicians walk the plank based on their musical talents, Cap'n Dogbane, so I was indeed surprised to hear him liking a rock and roller with folk leanings: 'Why is Live on 11th Street so great? Because it rocks! Casey's voice is every bit as good as Springsteen's was at his best, and his band were obviously having a ball the evening this was recorded.

Now Pegleg Pete the Brave knows a thing or two 'bout Scottish music, so I'd 'spect him to like Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars' Toils Obscure: Songs by Robert Burns and indeed he did, but, like a sailor looking at a red sky at dawn, he's got a warnin' for you: 'This is an album that may be different to what you might expect to hear, given the album's theme of 'Songs by Robert Burns' and the fact that they are not performed by a Scottish band. For this reason, and this reason only, I recommend you listen to some of the tracks beforehand to avoid any disappointment. It may not be as you quite expect. On a plus side, without the heavy Scottish accent, you can hear and make out most of the lyrics. Whether this is a good thing or not is open to conjecture! This subject would likely start months of debate in at least one traditional music magazine published in Scotland that I can think of.'

Mozaik's Live from the Powerhouse draws very high praise from Salty Bill Hardtack: 'The members of Mozaik all have reputations which precede them, and the musicianship on Live from the Powerhouse lives up to expectations. Long-time fans of any of the individual performers will want to have this CD. Newcomers looking for quality Irish or world music will find much to like about this as well, although they might want to catch up on Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny's histories while they're at it.'

Fancy Jack, who fancies himself to be more of a Jack Sparrow sort of pirate, has loved English dance muisc since he first picked up the fiddle so many years ago. As he notes of David Faulkner and Steve Turner's English and Border Music for Pipes, Hekety's Furze Cat, and the Old Swan Band's Swan-Upmanship: 'Kevin Burke, a noted Celtic musician that you might have heard of, once said 'This is dance music, and it's got to have a fair old bit of jizz in it.' The CDs we'll be looking at in this outing are all English dance music of a sort. So let's have the publican in the Green Man Pub pour us each a Ryhope Wood Hard Cider and we'll sit by the fireplace so we can be comfortable while we discuss these recordings. Comfy? Good.'

Roots music is, like a good ale, just somethin' that Ol' Scar Chest takes to like fleas on the mangy parrot that sits on the shoulder of a shipless pirate captain. Go read his review of The Silos' When the Telephone Rings, Jonathan Rundman's Public Library, John Brannen's The Good Thief, and David Simpkins' Long Story Short to see if they're better than those fleas!

So that's it for another week, mates. Time to weigh anchor on this issue. Remember to show your pirattitude today! And before we go, I'd like to remind our readers who have Live Journals that Green Man has an LJ of our own. Administered by Landlubber Esmerelda, you can find us under the username greenman_review. Arrr, then!

12th of September, 2004

'But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling, like dew, upon a thought
produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions think.'
Lord Byron

Mia Nutick here. I've had quite the interesting weekend. Holly Black (Tithe, The Spiderwick Chronicles) and Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Spider and the Fly) were in my little corner of the world (Portland, Oregon) to read from the newest Spiderwick novel and sign books for their adoring fans. Our intrepid Webmaster and I went down to Powell's on Friday night to see the show and meet a couple of our favorite literary figures. It was an amazing experience; Holly and Tony didn't just read a bit from The Wrath of Mulgarath and sit down to scribble their names. They wove a spell, with words and laughter, enchanting a room full of children -- and parents, and bookstore employees for that matter. They brought a number of fascinating artifacts with them, including a unicorn's horn, troll hair, and a pair of leprechaun shoes.

We had a longstanding invitation out to Holly, for dinner when she was in town. That fell through, as did lunch on Saturday. Holly and Tony's media handler had them running here, there, and everywhere. Plainly exhausted, Holly, Tony, and their respective spouses Theo and Angela were gracious, sweet, and slightly frazzled at their reading at A Children's Place bookstore on Saturday.

Here at Green Man we often have the pleasure of interacting more personally with some of our favorite authors and musicians. Though many of us here began as starry-eyed fans, we've come to know artists as people. Yes, that's right, there are real live human beings behind our best beloved books, CDs, and films. People who can magick us away to distant and exotic lands across the Border also have to go to the dentist, do their laundry, and take their cats to the vet. Getting a book published is only the beginning -- how about spending hours signing every book the store has in stock before you're allowed to go back to your hotel and get something to eat? You'd be cranky, wouldn't you? How about having to greet your fans after a concert, knowing that you're missing your own childs first school play?

And so it's all the more wondrous that these creators, these weavers of magic and laughter and music, these people who give us glimpses into the Other, manage to keep doing so year after year. And graciously handling the demands of fame, too. There are easier jobs. They don't do it just for a paycheck. It's a calling.

Our featured review this week comes from Chief Cat Eldridge, with two offerings from Neil Gaiman: The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, and The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection. Of the first, Cat says  . . . 'I could say I suspect strongly that Dr. Seuss himself would have found this to his liking. It's that fun. It's a perfect gift to you as a Gaiman fan, or as a gift this coming holiday season to someone who really likes Gaiman. Oh, did I mention the limited edition version -- which the removable sticker on the dust jacket cover proclaims this edition to be -- includes a recording of Neil reading the narrative? YES! Is it worth hearing? Oh, very much so.' He says of the audiobook: 'The only annoying aspect of this disc is that there's only fifty minutes of material on it when it could have easily held another twenty minutes worth of goodies, say . . . a lengthy excerpt from Coraline? What I will say is that it'll make an absolutely perfect holiday stocking stuffer assuming that anyone in this post-modern age actually stuffs stockings in a Charles Dickens sense anymore.'

In 7th century Ireland, a wise nun called Sister Fidelma solves mysteries. Faith Cormier reviews another one of Peter Tremayne's excellent Sister Fidelma novels and finds it worthy: 'Our Lady of Darkness skillfully weaves murder, sexual misconduct, vengeance, greed and a number of other deadly and venial sins. The plot keeps twisting till the very last paragraph.'


'In a stark, elemental setting based on medieval Britain, dramatic battles between good and evil drive the plot -- but the narrative really turns on the quiet struggles within the souls of the three protagonists . . . ' says Lory Hess in her review of a trilogy from the late Monica Furlong. Of Wise Child, Juniper, and Colman, Lory concludes that 'Monica Furlong has achieved a rare kind of quiet beauty which has won her many devoted readers, and which gives them a timeless appeal.' Lory receives an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

Film Editor Tim Hoke looks at a mystery novel by Will Thomas: 'A destitute Thomas Llewelyn answers an advertisement on what he presumes to be his last day of life. Should he fail to be hired (and he's certain that he will fail), he plans to jump from a bridge into the Thames. To his surprise, he succeeds in the interview, and is hired by Cyrus Barker, private enquiry agent (it seems that Barker dislikes being called a detective). Llewelyn's adventures begin the next day . . . Some Danger Involved is written in Victorian style, which may not be to the taste of some modern readers, but which suits the story. Despite the Victorian setting, this is not Sherlock Holmes meets James Bond . . . '

David Kidney, Assistant Music Editor of renown, has a tidbit which sounds delightful to me, and which will be of extreme interest to the residents of Hamilton in Canada. David explains, 'David Collier is a cartoonist who lived in the wide open prairies of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He had lived in Toronto, and visited the city of Hamilton but one day, after circumstance led him to this point, he packed his family into a U-Haul and moved to Hamilton. To live there . . . Hamilton Sketchbook is pretty much exactly what it claims to be: a collection of drawings by Mr. Collier, illustrating the movement and resettlement of his family. And it's a pleasure to read, too.'

Matthew Winslow hangs another Excellence in Writing Award on the wall in his office, for this one: 'Aside from being an armchair theologian, I'm also an armchair historian. I'll be the first to admit that I love reading history, and historical theology or theological history just plain excite me. As a Protestant, I find the whole 17th-century in England a fascinating time period, if for no other reason than there is hardly a single popular historian who can approach the period without showing his or her prejudices. Let's face it: England in the 17th century was not only a powder keg time, it is still a powder keg amongst students of history . . . So, it was with great interest that I read John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise by Marc Aronson. The title reveals little about the author's position, pro or con, on the Puritans. Could this truly be a popular history of the Puritans and their beliefs that took a balanced view? I am glad to report that it was this and more.'

'Does anyone else remember the days when horror movies were actually scary? When a sleepover with your best friend and a trip to the video store meant an adventure of epic proportions? The selection of the film meant deciding which box boasted the most frightening beast; the ritual itself consisted of a sleepless night clinging to each other, too afraid to let your feet touch the floor, all the while refusing to admit to each other that you were scared.' Recently new staff member J.J.S. Boyce assures us that Ginger Snaps is such a film, a truly scary horror movie. Mr. Boyce picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for his review . . . but when you read it, you might want to leave the light on.

Right! 'Ere we are wif this week's music reviews. SPike 'ere, sippin' on an ice coffee. I started drinkin' these one weekend when blues singer Taj Mahal wuz in town. He's crazy for them. An' I 'ave been makin' big pitchers of espresso, poured over a glass full of ice, wif a little milk . . . mmmm. Very nice when you need a bit of a buzz but it isn't time for Boddingtons! Sorry . . . where the @#$% wuz I? Oh right! A ton of new music today . . . all very in'erestin' and some of it quite danceable!

Staff writer John D. Benninghouse starts us off wif a look at an album by The Ukrainians. Istoriya is just wot it says, The Best of The Ukrainians. John says 'this is a great introduction to this band of Englishmen who play an unholy marriage of Ukrainian folk and punk . . . ' Sounds like I might 'ave to pick this one up! It features ' . . . a cover of the Sex Pistol's 'Anarchy in the UK' which is pretty faithful. Well, as faithful as one can be with a mandolin involved.' Crikey . . . if that don't whet yer appetite, I don't know wot will! John also listened to a CD by Zar called Tusind Tanker. Not sure I completely get wot John's talkin' about 'ere . . . 'The album has the character of a palimpsest with the traditional layered over the new. Theres no mistaking Tusind Tanker for a purely revivalist affair but the band wears its collective folky heart on its sleeve . . . ' but he made me want to listen to it, and that's wot it's all about!

'E also looked at Hotpoint Stringband's Hotpoint Special and liked it, quite a bit! 'Casually throwing Hotpoint Special into my CD player, I chose a track at random. My ears were greeted by an infectious groove of drums and shaker. This stood in great contrast to what I had expected. The album's cover features a middle-aged gentleman clad in suspenders running while he clutches a fiddle in one hand and a bow in the other. What was this? The song, 'Bridewater Boys Breakdown,' sounded like Bela Fleck had been listening to too many Tito Puente records.'

Scott Gianelli is a senior writer 'ere at the Green Man. I bumped into 'im at the pub the other night an' he told me about this album by the Warsaw Village Band called People's Spring. He seemed quite keen on it: ' . . . People's Spring will most likely not appeal to those who like to take their folk music sitting down. Conversely, any fan of particularly energetic fiddling should regard this album as essential. It as a work of six undeniably proficient musicians, motivated by a strong sense of purpose.' Scott is NOT one to take 'is folk music sittin' down, as, I guess you can tell!

Craig and Kara Markley's Once Upon a Winter Moon encouraged staff reviewer Lory Hess to write this, 'Cleveland-area musician Craig Markley showcases the emerging vocal talent of his daughter Kara in this self-produced offering for the holiday season. In the title track, a plaintive flute melody over brooding synthesizer chords leads into a setting of the medieval Latin Christmas hymn 'Gaudete' set to an insistent syncopated rhythm. When the initial tune returns over the added beat, it enriches the texture without clashing with it -- an intriguing blend of the ancient and the modern.' Geez! Christmas music in September! Well . . . I guess it's gettin' close, ain't it!

David Kidney, Master Reviewer and sodding decent bloke really loves the voice of Roger Chapman. He wuz a fan of Chapman's early bands Family an' Streetwalkers, an' 'e loves the solo stuff too. Dave looks at three re-issues of Chappo solo collections in his Roger Chapman Omnibus. David opines 'I guess that's the key to enjoying Roger Chapman. There's no one else like him. He does his thing, and challenges you to dig it or move on. And that's what all the greats are about, isn't it?' An' I think, yeah . . . he's right. The great ones do wot they do . . . an' you either get it . . . or you don't. Dig Chappo!

I warned you that some stuff this week wuz danceable, but I didn't tell you wot kind of dancin' it would be, did I? Well, where I come from, there are these crazy blokes who dress up all in white wif bells an' hankies wavin' and they dance around. Everybody 'as a @#$%in' good time. They call it Morris Dancin'. Senior Writer Lars Nilsson offers an amazin', an' long, review of a multi-generational series of albums from a talented muso called Ashley Hutchings an' 'is associates. The Morris On Omnibus is so in'erestin' that it wuz hard to pick jus' one representative bit . . . but Lars says this, 'There are few records that can claim to have made a lasting impact of the world of music, but a handful of them have had Ashley Hutchings as one of the ingredients. After all, he was a founder member of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and the Albion Band, and if anyone deserves the title 'Inventor of folk rock,' (folk rock used here to mean electrified folk music) it is he.' True enough . . . an' the music in this set sounded cool echoin' down the hallways of the Green Man Building. An' it gets an Excellence in Writing Award!

Big Earl Sellar, Master Reviewer, takes us from England to Chicago wif 'is review of Muddy Waters' King Bee. 'Although King Bee was his swan song, Muddy Waters still played and sang with a vigor that is belied his 65 years. If you already own a copy of this album, this reissue's bonus tracks may not be a strong enough draw, but, hey, what's another blues disc? And although this disc isn't the first Muddy disc I'd choose for someone new to the master's music, it's a must have. I only hope I can invoke that much power when I'm a senior. Heavy.' The entire staff wishes to join wif me in wishin' youngster Big Earl all the best in achievin' that goal!

Finally, another of GMR's Master Reviewers steps in wif a hat trick of solid reviews! Gary Whitehouse kicks off wif a spin of Naim Amor's Soundtracks, Volume II. Gary describes what he heard as 'bal musette,' and 'birdsongs,' he uses the term 'gamelan' an' 'Coltrane.' Gary, wot @#$%in' music are you listenin' to? 'Offbeat but accessible, Naim Amor's Soundtracks, Volume II is one of the most purely original releases of the year.' Hmmm. Fair enough! But that's not the end.

Next Gary listened to BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, and their CD Gitane Cajun. 'The highlights of Gitane Cajun come in the middle, with a brilliant stripped-down arrangement of a traditional waltz, 'Le Hack a Moreau,' and the flat-out fiddlefest of 'Me and Dennis McGee.' On the former, Breaux and Doucet showcase their first-rate interplay on Cajun music the way it used to be, with just accordion, fiddle and mournful vocals. On the latter, Doucet pays tribute to one of his mentors with some of the fastest and most ornate fiddling he's ever put on record. Tharp's bass-playing pushes the beat on this one, keeping it moving forward at breakneck speed, and everybody gets a turn at the melody.' It's hard not to like stuff that moves at 'breakneck speed!'

Hey . . . one of Gary's favourite bands, Calexico, put out an EP called Convict Pool which sounds both political and musically excitin'! ' . . . There's a reference to 'Tony and George,' the leaders, respectively, of England and the United States, and the cryptic line, 'avoid the nipple, protrusion on the wall,' which to me speaks of Attorney General John Ashcroft's decision to move his press briefings away from the Justice Department's famous statue of blindfolded, scale-balancing Justice -- because the statue's naked breast appeared behind Ashcroft in photographs. All six tracks on Convict Pool stand on their own, and together they're as vital and passionate as many a full-length CD released in 2004.' Sounds great!

There you 'ave it. Morris Dancin', the blues, fiddles, Coltrane, spooky guitars, fiddles, Chappo, fiddles an' an accordion . . . wot else does anybody need? Crikey, me ice is all melted. Look at the time . . . the pub's open! See ya next week!

Thanks for visiting us this week. Did you know that September is National Writers and Editors Month? This would be a good time to buy a book. Go crazy and send some fan mail. Find out who's reading in your town and show up; be an appreciative audience. Hug a maker today!

5th of September, 2004

'Do you take this woman? I said, yes I do
I love her like crazy and I think she loves me too
But we'll do without the family
if it's all the same to you

Your mother is a flake,
my father's full of shite
Your sister says you married me in white
just for spite
Well a party's not a party
till it ends up in a fight'

Oysterband's 'Blood Wedding'

Jack Merry here. Let me put aside Roger Zelazny's A Night In The Lonesome October which I've been reading this foggy evening. Do have a pint of Dragons Breath XXXX Stout with me while I tell you a tale . . . 

Depending on how you figure it, it's either late summer or early fall here on the border. What that means in either case is that it's time to shift into the Winter mode of being here at the Green Man offices. Both our Oak King for this coming year, Paul Brandon, and our Winter Queen, Josepha Sherman, have been making use of the offices we set aside for visiting writers of note. Now admittedly both of them seem to be more interested in the music and drink in the Pub, but that's fairly typical of all who are here for any length of time. (Josepha's fond of Young's Double Chocolate Stout, but will drink anything so long as it's not light beer.) And both are very fond of the twice told tales they hear in the Pub. Why, Old Willie, an Irish poet we knew all too well, could spend days upon end in the Pub, telling the most amazin' tales!

A story oft times repeated here is of the Seelie Court wedding in the Great Hall where bloody near everything went wrong. Now how much of it is true, and how much is pure embellishment down the years matters not. As I've heard it from Reynard and others who were there -- I was elsewhere gigging on that Hallows Eve -- the bride and groom were, as might be guessed, a member of the Seelie Court and a mortal who should've known better than fall in love with the Queen of the Seelie Court. (Who was every bit as beautiful as Emma Bull was as the Summer Queen is in the War for the Oaks video.) But then Reynard noted the groom never had the best luck at picking his betrothed as he'd been nearly wedded to a selkie once! That said, he was a regular fiddler in the Neverending Session so we had to wish him well.

(A word from me, Reynard. He owed me money from the last poker game he played in here, so I'd hoped that he could make good on his debts. Should've known that bastard would find a way out again!)

What else went wrong? Oh, some of the guests thought that other guests were food. And those guests got even more upset when Queen of the Seelie Court started tearing the flesh from their King. (Being foliate, he did look like a large salad of sorts, or so said the Queen.) The resulting fight was epic on par with the wedding of Branwen and the King of Ireland, at which Branwen's brother incited a serious fracas by insulting the Irish guests. It was part really nasty food fight, part slapstick comedy (with language Lenny Bruce would've blushed at), and with blood tinged red, green, and otherwise everywhere. It was fortunate that swords, knives, and even spells had been banned from the Great Hall or more than broken teeth, crippled wings, and damaged egos would've happened. Reynard says it was a sight for all the Fey to realize their spells wouldn't work inside the Great Hall!

The groom apparently decided that marrying Her Royalness was not the best idea he had of late, so he grabbed his fiddle, his kit bag, and much of the faerie gold that was a gift to the not-to-be wed couple. Now I know and you know that faerie gold is likely to vanish in the morning sun once it's carried over the mortal border, but he seemed not to care. Fiddle in one hand, a bottle of Midnight Wine in the other hand, pockets full, and his travelling kit over his shoulder, he was last seen headed not towards the mortal border, but deeper into the faerie realms. The Queen Herself along with the Wild Hunt, was fast on his track. . . .

All I know is that poor Tom was never seen here 'gain. . . . anyway, on to this issue.

Craig Clarke has an offering from one of our favorite publishers, Cemetery Dance. Craig explains: 'This is not a book for the average Ray Bradbury fan; there are no stories about Martians or dinosaurs or murderous babies. A Chapbook for Burnt-Out Priests, Rabbis, and Ministers is a collection of poems, essays, and musings on various literary, philosophical, and religious subjects and includes appearances from Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Gerard Manley Hopkins, H.G. Wells, Garry Kasparov, Death, God, Jesus, Homer, Noah, Ahab, and the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz.'

Scott Gianelli looks at a book/CD set compilation which should tantalize lovers of Australian folk music as well as anyone interested in the way the folk tradition evolves in a melting pot society: 'With Verandah Music, Graham Seal, Rob Willis, and a small army of researchers and musical collectors have not only compiled a broad assortment of songs covering the full spectrum of Australian folk traditions, but also tell the stories of the people who made the music that was popular in the local dance halls and on the front porches. The book consists of brief biographies of a litany of small-time singers and local legends who've graced every nook of the Australian landscape over the past century and into the present. Accompanying this book are two compact discs of music, performed either by the people described in the book or by musicians of the present generation inspired by the older performers.' Scott takes an honest look at this set, and takes an Excellence in Writing Award for his trouble.

For the last year, Book Editor Maria Nutick has been following The Spiderwick Chronicles, a series of fairy stories for children written by Holly Black and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. The long awaited fifth and final tale, The Wrath of Mulgarath, goes on sale to the public on Tuesday, September 7th. Mia says 'Mulgarath is a page-turner, with continuous action that will keep young readers' attention handily. In fact, having given Spiderwick books to several children recently, I can attest to the anxiety with which fans are awaiting this volume; I doubt my little friend Sidney, who calls the Spiderwick series 'the best books I've ever read, ever!' will be even a tiny bit disappointed. I certainly wasn't.'

Elizabeth Vail accepts a Grinch Award for her very fair but nonetheless brutally honest review of the first of a series by Anne Kelleher. Of Silver's Edge, Elizabeth admits 'I didn't really enjoy this book. While it didn't reduce me to groaning whimpers of despair upon learning that there will be more of these books coming to finish the series, I was left with no burning interest to find out what happens next. The entire experience was rather like getting my ears pierced, quick and painless, over very quickly, but not necessarily pleasurable.'

Gary Whitehouse has high praise for the debut novel from K.J. Bishop. He says that The Etched City is 'part Western-style adventure, part swords-and-sorcery fantasy, part Philip K. Dick alternative universe fiction.' He goes on to say of this intriguing combination '[I]n the way of the best fantasy fiction, Bishop creates a complex world that seems much like ours, but has just enough differences to allow the reader to suspend disbelief.'

The second volume Gary reviews this week sounds equally fascinating: '[Edward] Gorey was a prolific author and playwright as well, creating word-and-picture books like Amphigorey, parts of which went on to become plays such as the musical Amphoragorey. Gorey was an intensely private man, and for the last two decades of his life until he died unexpectedly in 2000, he lived alone in an aged, ramshackle Cape-style house in Yarmouthport, Mass. There, he lived the life of an artist and an eccentric collector &emdash; of antiques, found objects, books, recordings, cats, stuffed animals and much, much more. Photographer and former actor Kevin McDermott was a friend of Gorey, and after his death received permission from the estate to photograph the interior of the house before it was disturbed, boxed up, catalogued, carted up and hauled away. This book is the result.' This book is Elephant House or, the Home of Edward Gorey.

You back again? So I see I'll have to put aside A Night In The Lonesome October once 'gain so I can tell you about the CD reviews this outing. Reynard, do set us up two of the Ryhope Wood Hard Ciders . . .  Is any of the Lincolnshire Poacher cheese that's not quite a cheddar left that the fiddler from the Rise Up Dance Band tossed in the larder? There is? Excellent!

John Benninghouse says that 'Take Me Out Drinking Tonight is the latest effort to feature Annie Grace. Hailing from Scotland, she has spent the past decade plus in various bands including new wave folkies Iron Horse and The Usual Suspects. When the former called it quits in 2001, Annie took to the stage and appeared in several plays including Accidental Death of An Accordianist, The Celtic Story, and Miniatures. Take Me Out Drinking Tonight marks her return to the world of music.' So why was John disappointed with this affair? You'll have to read his review to see why!

John's review of Willard Grant Conspiracy's Regard the End has one of the best lead-off paragraphs I've ever read: 'If Grant Wood were to have been a musician instead of a painter, Regard the End would be a part of his discography. It smacks of Americana with its blend of folk, country, and blues. Instead the album belongs to Willard Grant Conspiracy. The core of the band was originally Robert Fisher and Paul Austin but this, their fifth album, finds Austin nearly out of the picture as he contributes to only two songs here. The bulk of Regard the End was penned by Fisher with the occasional contribution of a co-conspirator or the appropriation of a traditional song given the WGC treatment. In this case, it is applied by Fisher and 17 other musicians, including Austin. Far from being a hastily assembled group of sidemen, several of them have appeared on previous WGC albums or toured with the band. Part of the album was recorded in Slovenia so it should come as no surprise that there is a severe shortage of sprightly tunes here.' I must say this Excellence in Writing Award winning review only gets even better!

The Unbroken Circle: the Musical Heritage of the Carter Family is yet, not surprisingly, another fine release from Dualtone, one of our favourite labels here. So let's hear David Kidney rave about it: 'Tribute albums can be a dangerous thing. They can be so reverential that they miss the whole reason for the tribute. Sometimes they're good if one band provides backup for the variety of soloists. Sometimes they're better if lesser known musicians take part because the superstars sound uncomfortable and out of place. But sometimes, and Dualtone seems to be able to accomplish this, sometimes they really work. Everything fits together. Song selection. Artist participation. Production. Design. Everything just works. The Unbroken Circle is one of those times, and . . .  sure enough . . .  it's on Dualtone!'

Late last week, I heard a high-pitched squeal coming from the mailroom. David had discovered the massive package that Dualtone had just sent -- thirteen CDs worth of cowboy music! There were three from Don Edwards -- Saddle Songs, My Hero Gene Autry, and Kin to the Wind: Memories of Marty Robbins; 'nother trio from Waddie Mitchell -- Waddie Mitchell Live, A Prairie Portrait and That No Quit Attitude, one from Peter Rowan & Don Edwards -- High Lonesome Cowboy; four from the Sons of the San Joaquin -- Gospel Trails, Horses, Cattle and Cowboys, Sing One For the Cowboy and 15 Years--a Retrospective; and one offering from Red Steagall and the Boys in the Bunkhouse -- Wagon Tracks. David says of this roundup that 'Yessirree, what we got here is a whackin' large collection of some authentic cowboy music. Yup. You'd do well to read this here review slowly, at your leisure. Settin' out by the corral mebbe, chewing on a big ole stalk of grass, an' spittin' once in a while jes' to say you did. That's right. Cowboy music. An even dozen albums. Thirteen actual CDs, since one of 'em is a double. An' I've been selected to walk through these here things with ya, since I was the most familiar with the genre. Familiar with the genre means that I have listened to a bit of cowboy music in the past.' Read his Excellence in Writing Award review for a look at more cowboy music than you prolly thought existed!

The London Lasses and Pete Quinn have a CD out, Tracks Across the Deep, that Peter Massey very much likes: 'if your taste is for good traditional Irish music, played in a nice traditional style by virtuoso musicians, then this is the album for you.'

Finally, Michael Johnathon's new CD gets the nod from Gary Whitehouse: 'In uncertain times, many people long for the comfort and familiarity of home. That's the underlying theme behind folksinger Michael Johnathon's latest, Homestead. The Lexington, Kentucky-based singer and songwriter's album is a solid, satisfying effort that's as comfortable and comforting as a rocking-chair on a porch.'

Now shall we have 'nother Stout, or perhaps a Ryhope Wood Hard Cider?

On a parting note, a visitor to Green Man could use your assistance. Here's her tale: 'I am a professional oral storyteller based in the UK and am trying to track down a story that I know as 'The Brownie and the Prince with No Manners'. The plot is about a brownie who is collecting sticks in the forest when he is rudely knocked down by a Prince who is out on a hunting trip with his friends. The brownie decides to teach the Prince some manners and lays some of his sticks on the path in a mystical pattern, awaiting the Prince's return. When the hunting party comes back, the Prince's horse rears up at the sight of the sticks and throws the Prince from his horse. When he lands, he is magically transformed into a wild boar. His terrified friends gallop away. The brownie tells the Boar/Prince that he must learn to be more considerate of the feelings of others and sets him some tasks. If the Prince successfully completes the tasks he will be returned to his former self . . . etc. Have you any knowledge of this tale or where I might obtain further information? I believe it comes from a Scottish Celtic origin, but cannot trace its source. I would appreciate any help that you can offer. Thank you in anticipation.' E-mail me if you can help this lass with her question!


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Updated 26 September 2004, 15:00 GMT (JM)